This soft, squeezable cleansing balm is rich and creamy, melts into a stunning cleanser once you start working with it, and leaves your skin feeling refreshed and just a touch minty. I love it first thing in the morning to help me hit the ground running!
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I’ve now tried oil cleansing in bottles, pots, and push-up tubes, so I figured a squeeze tube was next. The consistency would need to be less firm than something I’d put in a pot or a push-up tube so it could be squeezed through the a small orifice at the end of a squeeze tube. It would also need to work well after mostly cooling in the tube, as I wanted to be able to pour it into the tube when it was still quite liquidy—this need steered me away from including clays or other ingredients that would need to be suspended in the end product.
Our emulsifiers are a simple blend of a solid emulsifying wax and a liquid solubilizer, to a combined total of 10% for a relatively gentle cleanser. We include emulsifiers in cleansing balms because they are our cleansing agents. Emulsifiers are double-ended molecules; one end loves water, and the other end loves oil. The oil loving end gets all groovy with the stuff on your face you’re looking to wash off, and the water loving end means you can easily wash it all away.
The bulk of the cleanser is inexpensive oils; a blend of fractionated coconut oil and castor oil (which also helps boost the cleansing power of the balm). I’m often asked about including expensive oils in cleansing balms, and while you can, I consider it to be a pretty big waste of nice oils. A cleansing balm is on your skin for maybe a minute before getting washed down the drain—why waste your lovely, pricey oils on such a thing? Save them for something that’ll actually stay on your skin, where you’ll get some bang for your buck.
Cleansing balms and oils are a great place to use up oils that are on their way out in the freshness category as you’ll use lots of them, and if you use the product once or twice a day, you’ll go through the product quickly as well. So, if you’ve got a ton of a fancy oil you need to use up ASAP I suppose this is a good project for that… though it still makes me wince a bit 😝
I’ve chosen cetearyl alcohol as our thickener because it makes things wonderfully fluffy and cloud-like, which was just what I wanted for this project. If you don’t have it you can try a blend of cetyl alcohol and stearic acid instead (perhaps 2.2% cetyl alcohol, 8.8% stearic acid?) , though I’d encourage you to double-check the consistency before transferring it to a squeeze tube just in case it needs adjusting! Additionally, if you live somewhere drastically hotter or cooler than I do, you may want to increase or decrease the amount of thickener by a few percentage points, increasing the fractionated coconut oil in turn. For reference: this recipe uses 11% cetearyl alcohol, while my solid Forest Cleansing Balm uses 19% stearic acid and 5% cetyl alcohol for a total of 24% thickeners to solidify it.
The making part is simple—weigh, melt, let it cool a bit, stir in our cool down ingredients, and transfer to your tube. You’ll be rewarded with a satisfyingly squishy tube of cleansing goodness in no time!
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Eucalyptus Mint Soft Cleansing Balm
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dish towel. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate. Set the measuring cup on a dish towel and leave to cool on the countertop for about ten minutes.
Once the mixture has cooled a bit, stir in your cool down ingredients. Now you’re ready to transfer it into your container! I used a 50mL squeeze tube (USA / Canada). I popped mine in the fridge for about ten minutes at this point to kick-start the full cooling process, taking it out every few minutes to give it a bit of a squeeze and a shake (mostly because I can’t leave well enough alone) before removing it from the fridge to cool completely to room temperature.
To use, dispense a small amount of product into your palm (roughly the amount of toothpaste ads tell you to use). I like to blend it up with some warm water in my palms before massaging it into my face, but you can also apply the balm straight to the skin and then rinse it off with water. I find this one rinses beautifully if you incorporate water in your palms—I didn’t need a cloth to rinse it off, just some splashing and wiping with my hands.
Because this salve is 100% oil based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry (the container really helps keep this format of cleansing balm from getting wet, yay!), it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using this batch calculator from Making Skincare. As written in grams this recipe will make 50g.
- Polawax (USA / Canada) will work well in place of emulsifying wax NF. You could also try other complete emulsifying waxes like Olivem1000 and BTMS-50.
- Cromollient SCE would work well instead of Polysorbate 80. You could also try Olivem300 (USA / Canada) (NOT 1000!).
- You can use any inexpensive, lightweight liquid oil in place of the fractionated coconut oil, like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed.
- If you don’t like castor oil you can replace that with another inexpensive oil as well
- You can try a blend of cetyl alcohol and stearic acid in place of the cetearyl alcohol, but please be sure to check the consistency before putting it in tubes lest it be too thick and get stuck! I’ve provided guidelines for a blend of both cetyl and stearic in the post. You may want to refer to my experiments with cetyl and stearic if you wish to use just one.
- You can use eucalyptus globulus essential oil instead of eucalyptus radiata
- You can also use an entirely different scent blend if you prefer, or leave it unscented. If you drop the essential oils, make up the 0.75% with more fractionated coconut oil.